Does politeness theory have an impact on one’s college education?

Does politeness theory have an impact on one’s college education?

Politeness Theory (PT) has an impact on one’s college education for multiple reasons. The premise of PT is built on the idea that individuals promote, protect, and save face. During your college career you are constantly put into situations where you might execute these tactics (Marianne Dainton, 2015). As a college student you are in constant rotation of interacting and collaborating with someone in one way or another, because of this you are tasked with having to adapt and/or understand different personalities and how those personalities work (or don’t work) with your own. This is important during your four plus years as a student because you are trying to learn, experience, and understand as much as you can to develop skills that are applicable personally and professionally.


To do this you will balance the “face” needs of yourself against the “face” needs of others. This is the second assumption of PT, human beings are rational and goal oriented with respect to achieving face needs (Marianne Dainton, 2015). For instance, when completing group projects, individuals may play into this assumption to ensure that said group will move forward progressively and smoothly. This also appears in the relationship between professor and student. As a student, it is important that you build a rapport with your professors as they are able to bestow information and network connections that will help you advance professionally. So, as you achieve their face needs you will accomplish the goal of gaining their connections and mentorship.

Another assumption that impacts ones’ college education regarding politeness theory are “Face Threatening Acts (FTA)”, behaviors that challenge a person(s) “face”, more so the strategies for dealing with FTA’s. This comes into play when deciphering whether politeness should be used. The three strategies carrying such influence are: Prestige, Power, and Risk. In essence, education is built upon this circle of factors. Throughout the pursuit of your college education balancing and discovering the value of each strategy mentioned above is critical due to the potential lasting effect of incorrectly applying or not applying politeness. Overall, politeness theory is highly connected to social networking which is a huge factor in the journey of pursing a college education.


– Rashida Peete

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